European patents on plants and animals

Is the patent industry taking control of our food?

This report illustrates how patents are on the verge of breaking through acceptable boundaries and putting our genetic resources at risk. Will our daily food soon be controlled by big corporations and the patent industry, or will our politicians make decisions to ensure that patents on plants and animals are prohibited?

We are at a critical stage: The seeds market is already highly concentrated in several sectors, including seeds for vegetables, maize and soybeans. According to recent reports, only five companies control 75 percent of the EU maize market, and same number of companies control 95 percent of the EU vegetable seeds market.

The European Patent Office (EPO) has already granted several thousand patents on plants and seeds, with a steadily increasing number of patents on plants and seeds derived from conventional breeding. Around 2400 patents on plants and 1400 patents on animals have been granted in Europe since the 1980s. More than 7500 patent applications for plants and around 5000 patents for animals are pending. The EPO has already granted more than 120 patents on conventional breeding and about 1000 such patent applications are pending. The scope of many of the patents that have been granted is extremely broad and very often covers the whole food chain from production to consumption. These patents are an abuse of patent law, designed to take control of the resources needed for our daily living.